Keeping The Beast At Bay


By Tank Hoover

Deep within the bowels of my home lurks a monster. No, really! When fed, he grows to ginormous proportions and can be quite intimidating. I try not to nourish him, but alas, it happens, sometimes with enormous servings, as he practically takes over the entire basement. His girth oozes, like molten lava, slowly creeping into every nook, crevice and cranny. So much so, I’m sometimes too scared to go down to his lair, even when I need to grab a gun, or handload some ammunition. Can you imagine such a thing?

Fightin’ The Beast

You see, that’s where the heart of the Beast lives, in my reloading/gun room. I know it’s time to fight the monster — Don Quixote style — when my beloved wife starts to complain, “He’s getting out of control, you better do something before I call the ‘Hoarders’ show.” No mere windmill, this beast is real! His dimensions and complexity are scary. I try to knock him down to a more manageable size, bit by bit, while making sure nothing of value is erroneously excavated in the ensuing evaluation and evacuation of his body parts.

The working area in my reloading/gun room closes in as the clutter grows. Spilled powder, both spent and live primers, dropped bullets, miscellaneous pieces of brass, empty primer trays and sleeves are the beasts spoor and contribute to the atherosclerotic condition of my operating area. Haphazardly stacked and strewn hazmat shipping boxes, defying the laws of gravity, are now stuffed with brass, bullets and bygone projects, as they ominously encroach on my space. Some are filled with full plastic ammo cases, while the empties are on-deck, waiting to be used. Peanut butter jars, coffee, bean and soup cans, heaped with cast bullets, creep outward and upward, crying to be loaded.

When my arms fail to reach the handles of my LEE, RCBS and Dillon presses, I know time is ticking to tango with the Monster, or at least give him a good poke.

A temporary fix will buy some time, by transplanting some of the bigger items into the hallway, before the obvious chore ensues. Eventually, the scattered stockpiles of “stuff” become one, as they conjoin, its pulse now beating to the same rhythm as the Beast.

This last time, after a quick quaff of Henry McKenna for courage, I stare at the Monster of Mess, eye to eye and remark, “My how you’ve grown, since last time….” I don’t fight my nemeses with a jousting lance, but find plastic trash bags are the best tool for this wavering windmill of work, as I surgically remove the cancerous parts, piece by piece, like a gigantic game of Jenga, stuffing his mass into a suffocating bag, hoping I don’t get buried under an avalanche of boxes.


Every item causes pause, triggering a flashback, as I speculate on the evidentiary remnant of some experiment, load, or alteration to a specific gun, and reminisce on whether it was a success or failure?

Thankfully, most are successful, which is the curse leading to the Beast’s immensity. You see, I like to leave clues of the part, powder or component, so I can easily replace or replicate what I did in the first place. It’s this innocent practice that keeps feeding the Monster. Perhaps I should start jotting things down, rather than leaving physical evidence of my dalliances? It would be neater.

With each bag lugged upstairs, the Monster starts to unwillingly shrink, fighting my efforts. After five or six “Hefty” loads, his spirit loses ferocity as I triumphantly taunt, “You’re not so bad, ya stinkin’ Beast! I can cut you down to size whenever I feel like it!”

Whittled down, the Monster is practically gone. Over time, he will rear his ugly head from time to time, but I will keep him in check.

Ironically, I hope he never totally goes away, for if he did, it would be a sad day indeed. The Beast is built upon my thoughts, wishes, dreams, inspirations and aspirations. My remnants are his food for thought, our food for thought, of doing things, building things, experimenting, being active.

Reflection? Or Laziness…

I tell my wife, I would rather have the Beast down in the basement than become some couch potato in the easy chair, sprouting roots, taking hold of the comfy cushion. For that would be a scary thought indeed.

They say a messy desk is a sign of genius. What would a messy room, let alone basement indicate? You tell me.

Hopefully, the Beast will continue to rear its ugliness as long as I continue to live. When he finally dies, it means I will no longer be shooting, handloading or tinkering with guns. Long live the Beast and the beast within, I say.

Without that windmill to tilt with, who are we?

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2 thoughts on “Keeping The Beast At Bay

  1. Carl

    Had a Beast myself,Then it was time to stuff him in box’s and move when I Retired.
    Since then I’ve done a controlled release,he’s happier that way. But by next spring he’ll be back .

  2. Mike Storm

    I’ll make the same argument I used to make with my wife about safes…….The room is too small
    might add, I won that argument 1 time, after that she just said I had no self control at gun shows

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